I have included some extremely valuable tips to working with terra cotta pots that you may not have known, as well as several other useful activities!
The terra cotta pots I have written about here are plain, so there are many things to consider if you are going to decorate them. Let’s get started!
Before I share the pros, cons, and tips for using terra cotta pots, do you know what “terra cotta” means? It means something that is literally baked (it is essentially baked clay) in Italian.
We’ll get into more detail about terra cotta, or clay pots and at the end you’ll be able to judge whether they’re appropriate for you. Many of my indoor plants are in terra cotta pots.
Clay pots offer many advantages.
Clay pots, or terra cotta pots, have many advantages.
One of the main pluses for me, especially as a houseplant collector, is that terra cotta pots are usually inexpensive.
Some people gravitate towards using terra cotta because it is relatively inexpensive to buy a large number of pots.
I am not referring to the more expensive terra cotta pots, but rather just the plain ones.
Unglazed clay pots allow for moisture and oxygen exchange with the soil, because they are porous. Terra cotta pots ensure aeration, and they protect your plants from sitting in water for too long.
More oxygen to your plants’ roots is good for them. This is especially true if you tend to overwater your plants!
Taking care to “overwater” your houseplants in terracotta is a lot easier than taking care of them in plastic or other types of pots.
If you are clumsy like me sometimes and tend to knock stuff over easily, you may want to look for terracotta pots. These are heavier than plastic, so they can be ideal for more top heavy plants.
Terracotta pots will develop a wonderful patina as they age due to their absorbing properties and being porous.
The fertilizer salts will also have an adverse effect on them, and they will be more likely to collect over time. Some people do not like this, and I’ll speak about this more soon.
Clay pots have some disadvantages.
However, clay pots have some disadvantages. It really depends on your situation and on your preferences for some of these as well. One person’s disadvantage might be another’s advantage!
A terracotta pot can be quite delicate. If you don’t handle them correctly, they can break or crack. This is especially true if they’re used outdoors in summer.
Your plants can easily be knocked over by the wind, so secure them with stakes or move them to a protected spot.
Due to the porous nature of unglazed terra cotta pots, it may be difficult for you to adequately water your plants. Especially the smaller ones!
Some plants in 4 inch pots dry out so quickly that it is very hard to keep them watered.
You can manage the larger terra cotta pots much easier and can learn more about the plants that are best to place in them later in the post.
Please take care when placing your terracotta pot and saucer on wooden furniture since it might damage them.
Here I will discuss several tips for dealing with terra cotta pots in the following section.
Tips for Using Terra Cotta Pots Indoors
It is recommended that you soak brand new terracotta pots in warm water for at least 30 minutes before using them.
It keeps the pot from wicking excessive moisture away from your plant. Terracotta pots already tend to dry out quickly, so you don’t want to make matters worse.
When I have forgotten, I can already tell the difference.
Take a negative and turn it into a positive.
Terra cotta pots have broken many times in my time, but I preserve the broken pieces. Whenever I pot any plants, whether for inside or outdoors, I cover drainage holes with the crushed pot shards.
It is important to remember to place the item in the correct orientation over the drainage hole. It should be positioned like an upside down U over the drainage hole, so the water will drain but the soil will not.
Use a glazed saucer or plastic saucer when placing terracotta pots onto wooden furniture to prevent water damage.
Despite the porous nature of terra cotta, it can seep through or damage any wooden furniture you place it on. This can be addressed in two ways.
When I want to preserve the terra cotta look, I prefer using glazed saucers. They are glazed on the inside so that water does not drain through. If I cannot find them locally, I usually purchase them online on Amazon.
There is also an alternative to this, which is to use an inexpensive terra cotta colored plastic saucer:
Finally, I love keeping a bunch of these in my home. I feel that the quantity will never be enough, so I use them all. Clear plastic saucers in various sizes to protect your furniture:
There are a couple ways to stop terra cotta pots from developing a patina over time.
The first thing you should do is not use tap water for watering. The minerals in tap water will accumulate in the clay over time.
If you are going to use an organic fertilizer, eliminate any chemical fertilizers. Chemical fertilizers also build up in the soil, which causes the plants to rot.
How to Clean Terra Cotta Pots
Have you got some old terra cotta pots with a lot of mineral buildup that you would like to reuse?
Do you have a bunch of old pots that you bought for next to nothing at a garage sale? Here are some tips on cleaning them up!
If you don’t have a brush like this, they’re SO useful for cleaning your pots! Whether you’re using them for terracotta pots or for any other type. Begin by brushing off any loose soil and mineral buildup.
Terra cotta pots should be soaked in a solution of white vinegar. You can use ordinary white vinegar, which is typically 5%, or you can get yourself some cleaning vinegar, which is widely available in grocery stores or you can order it online.
The acidity in it will help break up the crusty buildup on your terra cotta pots even better!
Then put the terra cotta pots in solution that has 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. Soak them for up to 30 minutes.
After that, you can take out the pots and brush off any residue that has been loosened up with the pot brush.
Time to disinfect your pots! No bacteria, viruses, or pests should still be left in your pots, so you’ll have to disinfect them to be safe.
Just mix together 1 part bleach with 10 parts water and soak the pots in this solution for at least four hours. Wear safety gloves and safety goggles if you are handling bleach. Then rinse the pots off.
To remove any remaining bleach residue, I then soak the pots in plain water for another hour or so, before rinsing them one last time with plain water.
I personally have never used the dish water method to disinfect my terra cotta pots, although I’ve seen some people do so instead of bleach.
Disinfection is completely different from cleaning!
It might seem as if an item is clean to the eye, but it may still harbor bacteria, viruses and other potentially unwelcome guests, so you would be wise to disinfect any pots that you are reusing!
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